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“Good Advice For A Presidential Candidate”: Kasich Explains Government Spending To Woman: ‘You Ever Been On A Diet?’

At a town hall Tuesday in Dubuque, Iowa, John Kasich gave an interesting answer to a woman who asked the GOP candidate and former chairman of the House Budget Committee his advice on how to keep federal spending under control.

“I know how to do this. I mean, I know how to balance budgets; I know how to cut taxes; I know how to deal with the bureaucracy. I know how to do these things. And I get there, and we’ll get it done — but it won’t be done overnight,” Kasich said, actually sounding at least somewhat sensible. “It’s gonna take years to get there, because the debt is really high. And there’s no way to just slash all these programs — people wouldn’t accept that. But they will accept change.”

Then his answer got interesting. “And then you get there, and once you’re there, then you say, ‘How are we gonna stay here?’ And that’s where things kind of fall apart, because — Have you ever been on a diet?” Kasich said to the woman.

The woman replied, “Many times.” — to which he laughed and responded, “Well, you’re the perfect example!”

“Okay, so we set a goal, and you reach it. And what happens? How about a little spumoni? How about a trip over to Mario’s, an extra — you ever go to Mario’s? We were there last night. How about a little spumoni? How about another piece of garlic bread?”

The key, he said, was to maintain the original discipline — which might also be a good advice for a presidential candidate making personal remarks to people who ask questions at town halls.

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, November 4, 2015

 

November 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, John Kasich, Women Voters | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Presidents And The Economy”: Serious Analyses Of The Reagan-Era Business Cycle Place Very Little Weight On Reagan

Suddenly, or so it seems, the U.S. economy is looking better. Things have been looking up for a while, but at this point the signs of improvement — job gains, rapidly growing G.D.P., rising public confidence — are unmistakable.

The improving economy is surely one factor in President Obama’s rising approval rating. And there’s a palpable sense of panic among Republicans, despite their victory in the midterms. They expected to run in 2016 against a record of failure; what do they do if the economy is looking pretty good?

Well, that’s their problem. What I want to ask instead is whether any of this makes sense. How much influence does the occupant of the White House have on the economy, anyway? The standard answer among economists, at least when they aren’t being political hacks, is: not much. But is this time different?

To understand why economists usually downplay the economic role of presidents, let’s revisit a much-mythologized episode in U.S. economic history: the recession and recovery of the 1980s.

On the right, of course, the 1980s are remembered as an age of miracles wrought by the blessed Reagan, who cut taxes, conjured up the magic of the marketplace and led the nation to job gains never matched before or since. In reality, the 16 million jobs America added during the Reagan years were only slightly more than the 14 million added over the previous eight years. And a later president — Bill something-or-other — presided over the creation of 22 million jobs. But who’s counting?

In any case, however, serious analyses of the Reagan-era business cycle place very little weight on Reagan, and emphasize instead the role of the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy and is largely independent of the political process. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Fed, under the leadership of Paul Volcker, was determined to bring inflation down, even at a heavy price; it tightened policy, sending interest rates sky high, with mortgage rates going above 18 percent. What followed was a severe recession that drove unemployment to double digits but also broke the wage-price spiral.

Then the Fed decided that America had suffered enough. It loosened the reins, sending interest rates plummeting and housing starts soaring. And the economy bounced back. Reagan got the political credit for “morning in America,” but Mr. Volcker was actually responsible for both the slump and the boom.

The point is that normally the Fed, not the White House, rules the economy. Should we apply the same rule to the Obama years?

Not quite.

For one thing, the Fed has had a hard time gaining traction in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, because the aftermath of a huge housing and mortgage bubble has left private spending relatively unresponsive to interest rates. This time around, monetary policy really needed help from a temporary increase in government spending, which meant that the president could have made a big difference. And he did, for a while; politically, the Obama stimulus may have been a failure, but an overwhelming majority of economists believe that it helped mitigate the slump.

Since then, however, scorched-earth Republican opposition has more than reversed that initial effort. In fact, federal spending adjusted for inflation and population growth is lower now than it was when Mr. Obama took office; at the same point in the Reagan years, it was up more than 20 percent. So much, then, for fiscal policy.

There is, however, another sense in which Mr. Obama has arguably made a big difference. The Fed has had a hard time getting traction, but it has at least made an effort to boost the economy — and it has done so despite ferocious attacks from conservatives, who have accused it again and again of “debasing the dollar” and setting the stage for runaway inflation. Without Mr. Obama to shield its independence, the Fed might well have been bullied into raising interest rates, which would have been disastrous. So the president has indirectly aided the economy by helping to fend off the hard-money mob.

Last but not least, even if you think Mr. Obama deserves little or no credit for good economic news, the fact is his opponents have spent years claiming that his bad attitude — he has been known to suggest, now and then, that some bankers have behaved badly — is somehow responsible for the economy’s weakness. Now that he’s presiding over unexpected economic strength, they can’t just turn around and assert his irrelevance.

So is the president responsible for the accelerating recovery? No. Can we nonetheless say that we’re doing better than we would be if the other party held the White House? Yes. Do those who were blaming Mr. Obama for all our economic ills now look like knaves and fools? Yes, they do. And that’s because they are.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January 4, 2015

January 5, 2015 Posted by | Economic Policy, Economic Recovery, Financial Crisis | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A History Of Bad Ideas”: Bobby Jindal’s Shallow Rhetoric Re-Embraces Dumbed-Down Conservatism

The week after President Obama was re-elected, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) insisted Republicans need to “stop being the stupid party.” He added that he and his party have “had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

The Louisianan added that his party should “stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same.”

It all sounded quite nice, actually. Even if Jindal made a poor messenger, the message had the potential to serve as a wake-up call for a party that badly needs one.

This week, we were reminded of just how shallow Jindal’s rhetoric really is, and why he’s not the Republican to lead the GOP away from “dumbed-down conservatism”; he’s the Republican who can’t let go of “dumbed-down conservatism.”

Many of us have argued that “fiscal cliff” is a wildly overwrought metaphor to describe the contractionary effects of fiscal tightening that will be phased in gradually. Bobby Jindal, in an op-ed today, seems to think the metaphor is not overwrought enough (“Today it’s the fiscal cliff, but that surely will not be the end of it; next year it will be the fiscal mountain, after that the fiscal black hole, and after that fiscal Armageddon”). But it also appears that Jindal lacks any understanding of what the fiscal cliff is or why economists think it’s bad.

Jindal’s op-ed is a truly sad display. The governor who seems eager to blaze a new intellectual trail for the Republican Party has an agenda that includes a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution (one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas); an 18 percent cap on federal spending (the other worst idea in the history of bad ideas); an arbitrary mechanism that would make it all but impossible for policymakers to raise taxes for any reason (which would make policymaking even more impossible); and just for the heck of it, term limits, as if having inexperienced policymakers would make our problems go away.

Taken together, Bobby Jindal, the guy who wants his party to “stop reducing everything to mindless slogans,” “stop being simplistic,” and start “trusting the intelligence of the American people,” is rolling out old, tired cliches that don’t work, crumble under scrutiny, and don’t even relate to the ongoing fiscal debate.

Indeed, Paul Krugman, lamenting the “fiscal ignoramus factor,” lamented, “You really have to wonder how someone who’s a major political figure could be this uninformed — but you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don’t comprehend at all.”

I realize Jindal has a reputation with the D.C. establishment as being a serious guy and intellectual heavyweight. It’s time for the establishment to reevaluate those assumptions.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 7, 2012

December 8, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I Voted To Send People To War”: Paul Ryan’s Big Foreign Policy Credential Is On The Wrong Side Of History

Defending himself against the perception that he has no significant foreign policy experience, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has drawn fresh attention to one of the most controversial acts of the past decade: the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq before UN weapons inspections were completed. Ryan now points to his vote for war as a token of his readiness to serve in the White House, but he is on the wrong side of both history and public opinion.

The Wisconsin Congressman may come to regret his flippant response to Carl Cameron last Saturday, when the Fox News reporter asked how he would respond to critics who question his weak national security resume. “I’ve been in a Congress for a number of years,” he said. “That’s more experience than Barack Obama had when he came into office.” Perhaps he should have stopped there, but instead blundered on: “I voted to send people to war.”

Does Ryan believe that voting for war constitutes foreign policy experience? If so, it is a kind of experience that reflects very poorly on him. Even he must realize that the underlying premise of the war, Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, quickly proved to be nothing more than a Bush administration hoax, along with the secondary claim that Saddam’s regime had some connection with the 9/11 attacks. After casting his party-line vote for a ruinous war because he accepted a faked argument, Ryan never spoke up against its continuation. He ratified every troop escalation and every supplemental appropriation.

Unlike the American people, who turned decisively against the war years ago, and have condemned it by large majorities as a waste of blood and treasure, he apparently still believes it was a swell idea. Concerned as he supposedly is about excessive federal spending, Ryan believes that the Iraq misadventure was worth three trillion dollars it has cost so far (and presumably the lost and destroyed lives of Americans and Iraqis, all the dead, wounded, orphaned, and traumatized, as well).

Except among the neoconservative advisers cocooned in the Romney campaign, such enthusiasm for the war is a very peculiar and distinctly minority perspective. Over the past few years, polls have shown between one-third and one-fifth of voters agreeing that the war was “worth the cost.” Roughly two-thirds to three-fourths of the electorate rejects that assessment and supports President Obama’s withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. That lopsided margin is fair warning for any politician who stakes his reputation on the Iraq war.

What Ryan cites as his chief qualification to serve as commander-in-chief is a series of votes that represent the most fateful, expensive, inexcusable error in recent American history. For him to cite that vote to draw a contrast with President Obama, who got the Iraq issue right, is startling. It reveals something that Americans need to know before he gets any closer to executive power.

 

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, August 20, 2012

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hallmark Doublespeak”: With VP Selection, Romney Now Won’t Take A Stand On Paul Ryan’s Budget

It’s only been a few hours since Mitt Romney announced House Budget Chair Paul Ryan as his running mate, but the Republican presidential candidate is already distancing himself from Ryan’s signature policy achievement.

In what appears to be an early attempt to deflect criticism about Ryan’s controversial budget plans, Romney’s aides circulated an internal memo to reporters this morning that lays out talking points for how the campaign plans to address the Ryan budget.

The whole memo is worth a read, but here is the part that addresses the budget (emphasis added):

1) Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?

  • Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.
  • Romney’s administration will go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: Can we afford it? And, if not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it?
  • Mitt Romney will start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford.
  • Mitt Romney also laid out commonsense reforms that will make good on our promises to today’s seniors and save Social Security and Medicare for future generations.

2) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas – like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, labor, etc. – do you think those differences are going to hurt or help?

  • Of course they aren’t going to have the same view on every issue. But they both share the view that this election is a choice about two fundamentally different paths for this country. President Obama has taken America down a path of debt and decline. Romney and Ryan believe in a path for America that leads to more jobs, less debt and smaller government. So, while you might find an issue or two where they might not agree, they are in complete agreement on the direction that they want to lead America

On the surface, this just looks like a feeble effort to mitigate the political risk of being associated with Ryan’s budget, which proposes drastic cuts in federal spending and a dramatic overhaul of popular entitlement programs, including Medicare.

But these proposals are the reason why conservatives and Democrats are both psyched about the Ryan V.P. pick. So Romney’s attempt to simultaneously embrace Ryan’s fiscal policy record and disavow his signature fiscal policy just sounds like more of his campaign’s hallmark doublespeak.

In reality, however, this is really the only position that Romney could or should be expected to take on Ryan’s budget proposals. As we have pointed out before, no one has ever thought the Ryan Budget was going to become a law. It has always been a political document, laying out a new ideological framework for the Republican Party, which, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, found that it had lost its way on fiscal policy.

It would be unreasonable to ask Romney to rigidly adhere to someone else’s budget manifesto, and it makes sense that he would want to form his own plan, consistent with his own ideas about the economy and fiscal policy.

The problem is that we have no clue what those ideas are. So in the absence of details about Romney’s own budget plan, it seems fair to tie him to the only proposal available — that of his V.P.

 

By: Grace Wyler, Business Insider, August 11, 2012

August 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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